Umpqua Shooting

Q&A: What This Graduation Day Means For Umpqua Community College Students

By Geoff Norcross (OPB)
June 10, 2016 7:30 p.m.

Today, Umpqua Community College will mark the end of a painful school year. It's graduation day in Roseburg. Last October, a student shot and killed an instructor and eight students on campus.

Joshua Friedlein is graduating today. He's the vice president of the UCC student government, and he also helped plan today's commencement ceremony.


Q&A with Joshua Friedlein

Geoff Norcross: What does today mean for you?

Joshua Friedlein: It's definitely a celebration. This year has been very difficult as you mentioned, and commencement is that light at the end of the tunnel that we've been in for the past eight months. It's about a triumph of this graduating class. To come back from something that no one should have to experience and graduate is a miraculous thing, and I'm so proud to be a part of this graduating class. I'm so proud of myself that I persevered and am graduating from Umpqua Community College.

GN: Yeah, and you mentioned it's going to be triumphant night. Will the events of last October even be mentioned tonight?

JF: Yes. In the planning meetings that we had to plan this commencement ceremony, it was decided that — based on surveys of students and faculty and staff and the community — that the only mention of October 1 would be a moment of silence toward the beginning of commencement ceremonies. We did not want to distract from the celebratory atmosphere we were hoping to create. But we did feel that it had to be acknowledged in some way. And so we'll have a moment of silence, and I believe it will be mentioned briefly in the governor's address, as well as Sheriff Hanlin's.


GN: Gov. Kate Brown is going to be there, so that certainly does add something to the ceremony. How has what happened last October affected what you plan to do after you graduate?

JF: It's given me a new purpose. I would like to, or my plan is, to work for the federal government after I gain my master's in public policy. And that was something that I had not wanted before October 1st. But in my legislative efforts, since the events of October, I've discovered that I can make a difference, that the people in government can make a difference for people like me that have to go through ... like me and my fellow students who have to go through things that non one should have to go through. And it's actually the government that can step in and be there when you need them. And that's what I want to do with my life, to help people who might not be able to help themselves.

GN: And you didn't feel that way before this incident?

JF: I had felt it a little bit, but it wasn't a driving passion of mine. This incident did awaken that and fanned the flame into a driving force of my life now.

GN: And when you say your legislative efforts, you testified twice before the state legislature in Salem. You also testified in D.C.. What was that like?

JF: It was very surreal, nothing I ever thought I would do. But it did ... it made me realize that the government is there and they do want the best for us. And the people that are in government are just people like you and I. And when they see a tragic event happen, their first thought was not about how to spin it or work it to their advantage. It was how to help the people of UCC, and that was admirable and made me admire them and want to be like them someday.

GN: What do you think people need to know about what life has been like on the UCC campus these last few months?

JF: I think they need to know it's been hard. It's been very difficult, but it's also been good. The outpouring of love and support from our community, from our state, from all around the world, has been immeasurable and so greatly appreciated. And while it's been difficult, we've persevered. We've gone through three terms and we're still here, and we're still strong. And while we're never going to forget what happened, were not going to let define our lives.

GN: Joshua, thank you so much, and congratulations to you.

JF: Thank you so much, Geoff.